Just about all women know that vaginal discharge is a fact of life. Are we happy about it? No, not necessarily. But, seeing as it’s completely normal and serves an important function in the female reproductive system, we’ve learned to deal.
That said, what causes those sudden bouts of excess discharge, and what’s the best way to tell your vagina to take a chill pill? We’ll tell you.
Read on as we explore the vagina to uncover everything you need to know about heavy vaginal discharge.
What Exactly Is Vaginal Discharge?
Vaginal discharge is just as it sounds; fluid — or discharge — that comes from the vagina.
It’s made up of your body’s natural water, bacteria, skin cells, and cervical secretions, which may not sound too impressive, but vaginal discharge is your body’s self-cleaning system.
Yep, that’s right — it’s what keeps your nether regions clean, happy, and healthy.
That said, discharge fluid can be many things, including:
- Cervical mucus is a clear liquid or gel-like fluid that’s produced by the cervix and tends to change over the course of your menstrual cycle or during pregnancy.
- Arousal fluid is produced when sexually aroused from glands that are located in and around the vagina.
- Seminal fluid is simply a man’s sperm mixed with other bodily fluids and can stay in the vagina for hours after sex.
What Is Considered “Healthy” Vaginal Discharge?
Vaginal discharge varies from person to person. Some women deal with it daily, while others experience it less frequently. Your discharge may have a slight odor, or no odor. It could be thin and clear or thick and milky.
So, what’s considered “normal?”
In short, normal vaginal discharge:
- Is thin, clear, white, off-white, or slightly yellow in color
- May change with birth control pills or latex condoms
- Often increases during ovulation and decreases immediately before menstruation
- Doesn’t cause itchiness or irritation
- Isn’t accompanied by a burning sensation or a foul odor
- Can be watery, thick and sticky, or stretchy and elastic
Vaginal discharge changes throughout the month depending on each phase of your cycle. That said, it’s important to keep in mind that there’s no end-all-be-all for what’s normal, as every woman has something a little different going on down there.
What Is Abnormal Vaginal Discharge?
Did you know that the average amount of vaginal discharge averages about one teaspoon per day? Yup, it’s true — but that doesn’t necessarily mean more than one teaspoon is considered excessive.
You see, fluid amounts differ from woman to woman. It’s similar to the oil in your skin — some ladies just produce more than others, and that’s perfectly A-OK!
What’s most important is that women know what’s normal for them so they can detect a change. With that in mind, here are some of the telltale signs that your discharge may be abnormal:
- Strong, unpleasant odor or fishy smell
- Swelling, redness, or soreness
- White, cottage cheese-like texture
- Discharge accompanied by a burning sensation, abdominal pain, and/or pelvic pain
- Green, gray, or yellow discharge
- Unusual vaginal bleeding
- Vaginal itching
- Pain when urinating or during sexual intercourse
- Blisters, bumps, or sores in your genital area
If you have any of these signs or symptoms, it’s a good idea to contact your gynecologist or primary care provider for an exam, as there could be an underlying medical issue that needs medical attention.
What Are Common Causes of Heavy Vaginal Discharge?
Now that you know what vaginal discharge is and what’s considered “healthy,” let’s explore some of the most common culprits behind heavy vaginal discharge, shall we?
Heavy vaginal discharge may send you spiraling thinking something is wrong, but don’t panic — it’s not always a cause for concern. For instance, did you know that heavy vaginal discharge is common when ovulating?
This is because estrogen levels increase closer to ovulation, causing the cervical fluid to become clear and slippery — like raw egg whites. You may notice it on toilet paper when you wipe after using the bathroom, or it might collect in your undies.
In short, during the days leading up to ovulation, fluctuating hormones and cervical fluid are often to blame for the uptick in vaginal discharge production. In other words, there’s no need to worry.
When you get sexually aroused, several physical responses are triggered in your body. Arousal increases blood flow in the genitals, and as a result, the vessels enlarge, which pushes fluid to the surface of the vaginal walls.
This extra lubrication is the body’s way of preparing the vagina and vaginal opening for intercourse. During this time, you may also notice an increased heart rate or swelling of the vulva.
Need some help getting lubricated down there? We’ve got your back.
Whether due to stress or menopause, vaginal dryness can certainly put a damper on things. That’s why we created Sex Stuff — an unbelievably gentle personal lubricant that’s designed to match and maintain the vagina’s pH balance and good bacteria.*
Super slippery and incredibly hydrating, Sex Stuff is female-friendly and completely free of icky ingredients.
Medically known as vaginal candidiasis, yeast infections occur due to an overgrowth of yeast, namely the Candida fungus. They affect up to 75% of all women at one time or another and may develop as a result of:
- High blood sugar
- Weak immune system
- Tight or synthetic clothing
- Poor hygiene
Discharge that is white, thick, and chunky — like cottage cheese — is the most common sign of a yeast infection. Other symptoms may include:
- Pain during urination or sexual intercourse
More often than not, vaginal yeast imbalances can be treated at home with good quality boric acid suppositories — like The Killer.* However, severe infections can last longer and may require medical intervention via your gyno.
Pro Tip: If you’re one of the many women who experience recurrent yeast infections, we suggest taking a daily vaginal probiotic — like Good Girl Probiotics. This powerful female-friendly supplement helps maintain a balanced vaginal pH and healthy levels of vaginal yeast and bacteria.*
By taking Good Girl Probiotics regularly, you might provide your vagina with the support it needs to keep pesky yeast infections at bay.
What Are Other Causes of Heavy Vaginal Discharge?
If your excessive vaginal discharge isn’t a result of ovulation, arousal, or a yeast infection, it could be due to something else, such as:
At the end of the day, changes in your vaginal fluid amounts can happen due to a number of different reasons. To discover the culprit behind your heavy discharge, consider using a journal to track your vaginal fluid changes.
A Final Word
Heavy vaginal discharge can result from a number of things, such as ovulation, sexual intercourse, and hormonal fluctuations. That said, if it’s not accompanied by itching, swelling, redness, irritation, or a burning sensation, your vaginal discharge is likely healthy and will slow its role in due time.
However, if uncomfortable symptoms are associated with your discharge, you should probably make an appointment with your primary care provider as there could be something else going on down there.
Here at Love Wellness, we truly care about women’s wellness. Whether you’re dealing with vaginal infections, hormonal imbalances, belly bloat, adult acne, or something else, you can always count on us to have just what you need to support your health.
Love Wellness offers natural solutions for natural problems, made by women, for women. We believe wellness should be accessible, affordable, educational, and made with love.
Vaginal Discharge | Sutter Health
Vaginal Discharge | Cleveland Clinic
Yeast Infection | Jefferson University Hospitals
Yeast infection (vaginal) – Symptoms and causes | Mayo Clinic
Bacterial vaginosis – Symptoms and causes | Mayo Clinic
Clarithromycin-induced alterations in vaginal flora | Pub Med